STOKE'S AMERICAN PROBLEM
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ANDY SCHREUR - Friday, August 30, 2013
Stoke City will have four Americans starting January 1st when Juan Agudelo joins the Potters from New England.

Ordinarily, American soccer fans would cheer the fact that so many of our countrymen are playing Premier League soccer-the problem with Stoke is that only one American is actually seeing game time consistently.

Geoff Cameron was the only American to consistently feature under now departed Tony Pulis, while Maurice Edu was loaned to Bursaspor in Turkey last year after one appearance. Brek Shea was also signed from FC Dallas in January but spent time injured and on the bench during last season, only making two appearances for his new club.

Shea made his first appearance of this season on Wednesday in Stoke's 3-1 win over Walsall, playing well in the first half before being subbed off. Maurice Edu is still recovering from a sports hernia injury, which caused him to miss out on both the World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup earlier this summer.

Cameron seems to have cemented his starting role with new manager Mark Hughes after strong performances in World Cup qualifying earlier this summer. The Boston native has started in both of Stoke's Premier League matches this season at right back.

On Thursday, Jurgen Klinsmann released his roster for the September qualifying matches and again, only Cameron is featured. Edu's injury concern aside, Shea has been left off the roster after presumably not nailing down consistent playing time and still working his way back to full health. Shea was called into the Gold Cup roster and looked rusty after an injury layoff at the end of last season. He also missed some of Stoke's preseason camp, which might have hurt his chances at playing time.

With Agudelo's arrival at Stoke, the concern is that he'll be lost in a sea of experienced Premier league strikers. The Potters' roster includes Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome, Jonathan Walters, and Peter Crouch.

As Klinsmann has clearly defined, playing time at the club level is essential to being called into the US team. Shea, Edu and soon Agudelo will need to fight for playing time to be considered in the mix for the World Cup next summer.

With the immergence of Fabian Johnson in his national left sided midfield role, Shea is either relegated to the bench or not on the team at all. Edu also faces an uphill battle considering the strength of the US team is the central midfield, anchored by Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley. The immergence of Mix Diskerud and Brad Evans also hurt Edu's chances of making the World Cup roster. Even Sacha Kljestan, who typically starts for Anderlecht, a Champions League club, was left off the September roster, in favor of Real Salt Lake stalwart Kyle Beckerman.

Depth and competition for National Team spots is a good thing and further shows the progress of the American game. However, it also puts enormous pressure on American players to be with club teams where they can excel and play consistently. Shea, Edu and soon Agudelo are all facing that very issue this season with Stoke City. This season will be a crucial test for all American players going into next summer's World Cup in Brazil.
Clarence
Thursday September 12, 2013 2:29 pm
I still have not figured out why these english clubs sign american players at all. 1/8 gets consistent game time. The other 7 disappear into the european abyss. The europeans obviously either play a better style or are impatient in teaching this style to the signed talent. I
Even ol Deuce himself was about to play 10 games or less at Tottenham after already having proven himself as a stud at Fulham. I find it almost comical at this point- watch- jozy will get a flash in the pan to produce agsin on his return to europe.
4bc
Tuesday September 3, 2013 11:45 pm
Would be interesting for YA to dig into this phenomena a bit, i.e.- do good American players jump to European teams- even those that will likely bench them- because the pay is so much better? Can't blame them for that but it will leave guys without the type of playing time they'd probably see in MLS. I get that all probably hope to win starting spots when they sign but I think history shows that the vast majority of Americans that go to the bigger European leagues wind up like Onyewu, Adu, Eddie Johnson, and others. Some guys are able to return to the US and thrive like Donovan did. Others languish in a series of loans and eventual transfers down to bottom clubs (where many times I think they still make more than MLS). None of this is particularly good for US Soccer and as much as I like Klinsmann, I think he feeds it from the "challenge yourself" aspect. You can't challenge yourself from the bench.
Coach Kev
Monday September 2, 2013 2:05 pm
Stoke just signed Arnautavic (sp?). He is a fabulous forward and young. Not looking good for Juan.
Pete
Sunday September 1, 2013 12:06 pm
Cameron is class & will get games for us week in week out. Fantastic athlete with the right attitude.

I don't believe that Edu will ever get game time at Stoke. Not good enough & the competition for his place(s) is too strong,

I still have great hopes for the quirky Shea but not sure he'll ever be a regular. Cult figure seems apt.

Agudelo - we'll see I guess.
USnLFCfan
Saturday August 31, 2013 12:27 am
Assaidi is a winger.
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